Do you ever think about immortality? Do you ever wonder if life has a purpose beyond today?
King Solomon, the writer of the book of Ecclesiastes, pondered these thoughts. The introductory comments in my Bible say these are the “philosophical and theological reflections of an old man, most of whose life was meaningless because he himself had not relied on God.”
After the familiar poetry of “a time for everything” in chapter three, Solomon makes a profound statement in verse eleven.
He has made everything appropriate [beautiful] in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end (Ecclesiastes 3:11).
God has “set eternity” in the hearts of men. This is why we are drawn to thoughts of immortality, and to wonder about what happens after we die. Later on, Solomon reminds us that death is one of the best teachers for considering what is important in life.
It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, because that is the end of every man, and the living take it to heart (Ecclesiastes 7:2).
In other words, you can go to a party and have a great time, but you will walk away from it the same, not having learned much. But when you go to a funeral, you will have naturally considered the end of your own life and perhaps come away with a more serious outlook on what might be more important. Death is a great teacher because it is the one thing we all fear and cannot defeat. No matter how hard we try, none of us will escape death.
Let’s go back to Solomon’s thought in 3:11. Most every translation reads that God put eternity in our hearts so that we will not find out the work God has done from beginning to end. In fact, the Hebrew word is beliyi, and is an “adverb of negation” and can also mean “without.” Perhaps what Solomon is telling us is that if we do not consider eternity, we will never discover God’s purposes for our world at large, and for our own lives individually. We will never know the real meaning of life.
We could read the verse this way:
He has also set eternity in their heart, without which man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.
The entire book of Ecclesiastes is Solomon’s thoughts about the futility of this life. Folly, pleasure, riches, wealth, women, and even wisdom did not satisfy. From a purely physical perspective, all men end up dying and so they ought to enjoy the pleasures and blessings that God bestows on them while they can. Life isn’t fair. Good men suffer, and wicked men prosper. How can life have any meaning when it seems justice is nowhere to be found?
It is only in the last verses that we see the conclusion Solomon has come to.
The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).
When will judgment occur? After we die.
The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 6:23).
Immortality and eternal life is the point. God never intended men to die; He created us for immortality, to live in fellowship with Him. Sin brought death, and we inherited the disease that causes death from Adam. Sin is judged when death occurs. We can either pay our own debt and suffer physical death that ends in separation from God in a place called hell. Or we can accept Jesus’ payment on the cross and experience physical death as simply a door opening into the eternal, blessed life with God He desired for us all along.
In either case, life only makes sense when we consider eternity. Admit it. God has set eternity in your heart. You long for immortality, and you cannot conceive of simply becoming “non-existent.” You know there is life after death because your soul has the imprint of the image of God. You were made like Him, to live with Him.
Don’t believe the lie that death ends everything. That’s Satan’s deception. Do you want to know God’s plan from the beginning to the end? Consider your own impending death, which all men face because we are fallen, sinful, and separated from God. Only Jesus defeated death, and He did it for you.